The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday and McCrillis Flowers

Lines on a Young Lady's Photograph Album
By Philip Larkin

At last you yielded up the album, which
Once open, sent me distracted. All your ages
Matt and glossy on the thick black pages!
Too much confectionery, too rich:
I choke on such nutritious images.

My swivel eye hungers from pose to pose —
In pigtails, clutching a reluctant cat;
Or furred yourself, a sweet girl-graduate;
Or lifting a heavy-headed rose
Beneath a trellis, or in a trilby-hat

(Faintly disturbing, that, in several ways) —
From every side you strike at my control,
Not least through those these disquieting chaps who loll
At ease about your earlier days:
Not quite your class, I’d say, dear, on the whole.

But o, photography! as no art is,
Faithful and disappointing! that records
Dull days as dull, and hold-it smiles as frauds,
And will not censor blemishes
Like washing-lines, and Hall’s-Distemper boards,

But shows a car as disinclined, and shades
A chin as doubled when it is, what grace
Your candour thus confers upon her face!
How overwhelmingly persuades
That this is a real girl in a real place,

In every sense empirically true!
Or is it just the past? Those flowers, that gate,
These misty parks and motors, lacerate
Simply by being you; you
Contract my heart by looking out of date.

Yes, true; but in the end, surely, we cry
Not only at exclusion, but because
It leaves us free to cry. We know what was
Won’t call on us to justify
Our grief, however hard we yowl across

The gap from eye to page. So I am left
To mourn (without a chance of consequence)
You, balanced on a bike against a fence;
To wonder if you’d spot the theft
Of this one of you bathing; to condense,

In short, a past that no one now can share,
No matter whose your future; calm and dry,
It holds you like a heaven, and you lie
Unvariably lovely there,
Smaller and clearer as the years go by.


Sunday started with rain but turned into a lovely, not-too-warm afternoon, so after a morning of chores and a bit of working on photos, we went to McCrillis Gardens, which is small and local and we figured would not have many people around, which made social distancing very easy. There were lots of wet hellebores, daffodils, and bluebells, plus the first emerging azaleas, which is what the garden is famous for, and some fading magnolias and camellias.


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2020-03-29 14.44.30


2020-03-29 14.34.03

We Skyped with our kids and my parents together, then had Indian leftovers for dinner and watched Westworld, which had some awesome twists (<3 Tessa) and a couple of big WTFs that will hopefully be resolved before the season finale (though either way Picard could have learned a couple of things -- post on that still to come). Then we watched Last Week Tonight and the beginning of a NatGeo special about Robert Ballard searching for Amelia Earhart.

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